Grandparents spoiling your children

Are your parents or in-laws giving your children everything they ask for this Christmas? If you're unsure how to react, here is some food for thought.

For Christmas, as for any occasion, your children’s grandparents spoil them? Maybe they do too much? They give them everything they want, even gifts that you already disagreed with. Maybe you kept it to yourself when they were very young, a doll here, a teddy there; you did not see it as a problem, but it is getting too much. Your children even tell you things like “I don’t mind if you don’t buy me that video game, grandma will” and other antics.

Another way for grandparents to spoil your children is to never contradict them and to systematically be on their side. “Poor baby, don’t quarrel for that!” or “Just one cookie, it’s not the end of the world!” Those situations soon become hard to manage.

A rain of gifts!

Even if they claim to have the best roles since they don’t have to raise children on a daily basis, grandparents must understand that they have to educate them regardless, no matter how often they see them. They should support the parents’ efforts and copy them. Like parents, grandparents must set limits and have them respected. Saying “no” and refusing a gift does not mean they are bad grandparents, far from it.

One of the grandparents’ role is to reasonably spoil their offspring. However, if you think they are spoiling them too much, it is important to talk about it. Tell them that their attitude is making you uncomfortable because you fear that your children will abuse their kindness and that is not an ideal relationship.

But don’t dismiss all their privileges as grandparents. Let them treat the kids, maybe another way, but explain to them how important it is for your children to wait and desire something in order to appreciate what is offered to them. You don’t want your children to think that everything is owed to them.

Also, tell the grandparents that you are not against a little excess for their birthdays or for Christmas, but not all the time! This way, you can keep some magic for the big events. If not, giving a gift will become meaningless.

Usually, grandparents understand the distinction. They can also swap a material gift for a gift that will be even more precious: time. There is nothing better than realizing that our children want to spend time with their grandparents, even if they are not showering them with gifts. Grandparents have time for special activities that will strengthen their bond with the children: going for lunch on a school day, taking them to the cinema, cooking, undertaking complex crafts, teaching them to sew or knit, etc. Gently suggest these kinds of activities and their grandparents will realize that they can spoil your kids in other ways, without forking out money while teaching them to manage their frustration of not getting everything they want right away.

Don’t touch my discipline!

Covering them with gifts is one thing, interfering with the way you raise them or with your discipline is quite another. Don’t tolerate it if they ruin your efforts to establish some discipline or a routine. Don’t let this situation go on and on. Act swiftly and tell your parents or in-laws that, in your home, this type of discipline prevails. If you can, have this conversation in private, especially if the situation worsens. Mention that what you fear above all is that their interventions cause problems in your relationship with them and, consequently with their grandparents-grandchildren relationship.

The point is not to set frontiers. Accept that a grandmother may want to give privileges when babysitting your child; for example, sleeping later, watching a movie, eating a cookie before bedtime. It must be clear for everyone: those are treats, not new ways of doing things. Also, both grandparents and children must understand that it is an exception and that the rules won’t change because of it.

Image de Nadine Descheneaux

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